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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini ad infinitum

Slice them, dice them, grate them. Buy them, fry them, bake them. Carve lovely designs in the dark green skin, allowing the lighter flesh to peek through. Have a zucchini party! Make zucchini bread! So much zucchini, so little time!

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I love zucchini. I love that it is willing to be whatever you want it to be: sweet, savory, slimy, even invisible filler. Planting zucchini in your garden pretty much guarantees it will be coming out your ears, but I am willing to suffer that abundance. Willing to pursue, and share, yummy recipes. This year, we have had a huge amount of rain, and the result of that is a bumper crop of zucchini, yellow summer squash, and eggplant, so we are eating a lot of them! I have developed a couple of variations-on-other-themes dishes that I want to share with you before squash season is gone.

Recipes for this first item, dehydrated zucchini slices, is readily available on the web, but my variation is about the seasonings.

I am so bad about quantities. I always just pour whatever I am pouring in and decide when to stop, so I am showing you photos of the ingredients with guesses as to how much I used. I know, lame. But this way if they don’t seem quite right to you, you can adjust. The food won’t care if you make the change and neither will I. And I bet it will still be yummy.

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In a large mixing bowl, I put about three tablespoons of olive oil and one of water.

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This is a single-serving dessert dish. Measurements are approximate. Starting at the top and going clockwise, the spices are cumin (1 teaspoon), garlic powder (I ended up doubling that, so 2 teaspoons), oregano (1 tablespoon), and chili powder (1 tablespoon).


Dehydrated Mexican-Spice Zucchini SlicesDSCF5230

Zucchini, cut in 1/4–3/8 inch slices
Olive oil (3 T)
Water (1 T)
Cumin (1 t)
Oregano (1 T)
Chili powder (1 T) 
Garlic powder (2 t)
(Adjust all spice quantities to taste)

The thickness of your slices is a matter of preference, but I really like them a bit thicker and dehydrated longer to compensate.

Put olive oil, water, and spices into a large mixing bowl. Using a spoon, mix the spices and liquids together. Add zucchini slices, tossing to coat. If some of the slices don’t seem spicy enough, you can sprinkle a little more on them. You can also wipe the bowl clean with zucchini slices that need more spice. You want plenty of spice, but if you get too much oil, the slices will be greasy after they are dehydrated. It may take a time or two before you get the feel for this, but even bad batches are still edible and yummy. Load the slices onto the trays, and when you run out of the oil mixture, make a new batch and continue coating slices until the dehydrator is full. If I end up with more zucchini than I have room on the trays, I just stir fry the extras for dinner.

Once the trays are loaded, dehydrate for about 8 hours, or until the slices are crisp (you may want to refer to the owners manual for your particular dehydrator to make sure this timing is right; this works with mine). I make as many batches as I can every year. It was the inability to find a gluten free-version of croutons that I liked that prompted me to start making these. They are great on salads, but they are also nice by themselves as a snack.

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Next up is a blending of a couple of recipes that have been favorites in my home: ratatouille and pizza. This is so deliciously pizza-like, and because there is no crust involved it is a lot less filling than regular pizza, yet very satisfying. I am able to tolerate some mozzarella cheese right now, but when I am unable to handle dairy at all, I just leave the cheese off. If you can’t tolerate dairy, you could do the same or use a dairy free cheese; I just don’t like any of those, so I go without.

Ratatouille Pizza

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Zucchini, sliced (and/or yellow summer squash)DSCF5288
2 eggplants, diced
Onions, chopped
Green pepper, chopped (to taste)
1 6-ounce can of small or medium ripe olives, sliced
Pepperoni slices (1 of the 2 sealed packages of the Hormel that is pictured to the right, or to taste)
Mozzarella cheese (or Italian blend), shredded, as much as you like 
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
Spices, to taste: Italian seasoning (1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons), basil (1 to 2 teaspoon), oregano (1 to 2 teaspoon),
                       garlic powder (1 to 2 teaspoons)

Preheat oven to 350° F

Layer veggies in a 9 x 13 glass dish. I layered mine as follows: squash slices, diced eggplant, onions, green pepper, olives, with the pepperoni slices on top.

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Note that the bottom layer is yellow summer squash. I have a ton of that, too. This was my second time making this recipe, and the first one had zucchini. A blend would be good as well. Also, this one doesn’t have onions, but only because I forgot them. The first one did, though, and they really are a great addition.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, then pull it out of the oven, sprinkle with cheese, and then bake for about 10 more minutes, or until the cheese is as melted and/or browned as you like. This one could have been in there a bit longer.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do at my house!

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